Magical “Gardens”

If you are like me and live where the snow rarely falls, then you will have a hard time exploring snow crystals like Wilson Bentley did. But never fear, there are many other types of crystals out there just waiting for you to observe, photograph, and possibly even “grow”!

When I taught 3rd grade, my students and I grew salt and alum crystals every year as part of a science unit. We also experimented with sugar and borax crystals a few times. However, my favorite kind of crystal to grow is alum because of its unique shape.

Salt crystals also have an interesting design and can be grown quite easily.

If you are curious about how this works and would like to create your own “magical garden,” check out these links for information on growing your own crystals:

Science Club Website: Crystal Growing

The Best Crystal Project

Crystal Science Fair Projects

Then sit back, watch them grow, and don’t forget to take some pictures.

Taller than a newborn calf…

Vocabulary… such an essential part of comprehension.

When readers cannot connect meanings to words in a story and/or lack prior knowledge to truly understand key details, comprehension suffers. Pictures and videos can help to fill in these blanks for readers, making the reading experience richer and more meaningful. With the use of the Internet, opportunities for helping our students expand their vocabulary and understanding abound.

Programs like Picnik (which sadly is closing in April) make it easy to create vocabulary cards like these for some of the key words in the picture book Snowflake Bentley:

For more complex concepts like evaporation and the photography process, there are a variety of videos available:     Evaporation     Water Cycle

And if your students want to see a photo of the camera that was “taller than a newborn calf and cost as much as [Bentley’s] father’s herd of ten cows,” visit this site and then check out this page for more info on bellows cameras from the 1800s.

As time and resources allow, students could also search for examples to expand their own vocabularies and knowledge, having fun along the way learning what a difference a picture can make.